Suspected main player in ‘Hackerville’ gang extradited to Ireland from UK
July 22 2021 11:11 PM
A suspected member of an international crime gang is expected to appear in court Friday morning after he was extradited to Ireland on serious fraud charges.
Romanian national Gheorghe Adrian Gherghe was tonight arrested at Dublin Airport by detectives from the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) and brought to Ballymun Garda Station.
The suspect, who has been a long-term target for the GNECB, is expected to face money laundering charges in relation to allegedly opening 37 different bank accounts using 10 fake IDs including French, Italian and Romanian identity cards.
Fraud squad officers have been investigating whether sums of over €600,000 passed through bank accounts linked to the suspect between 2017 and 2019.
In one search linked to the suspect, detectives seized 14 false IDs and a number of electronic devices after in Drumcondra in August, 2019.
This led to his identification by the GNECB who alerted their counterparts in the UK when Mr Gherghe arrived on a flight into Belfast in January of last year.
The suspect was arrested in Belfast Airport and sent to England where he served a sentence for fraud related offences there.
An European Arrest Warrant (EAW) was issued for the suspect and on completion of this sentence he has been extradited back here.
Senior sources say he is considered a “high level gang member” and despite being a massive garda target, officers were never able to definitely establish exactly where he lived while in Ireland.
Gardaí have worked closely with police in Finland, Holland and the UK as part of the massive investigation.
Even though Mr Gherghe is not from the Romanian city of Râmnicu Vâlcea, sources say he is closely associated with many gang members from the city which has been nicknamed ‘Hackerville’.
The central Romanian city earned its dubious title because over 80 of its inhabitants have been arrested as part of a major EU crackdown on the fraud mob.
The gang at the centre of the lengthy investigation are suspected of carrying out thousands of organised frauds in other EU countries and then using Irish financial institutions to launder the cash.
“Primarily this gang have been involved in two different types of organised fraud in Europe,” a senior source said.
“One of the scams has targeted customers of Airbnb and many other accommodation providers all across Europe,” the source pointed out.
“Customers have been duped into paying money for bogus accommodation – they think they are renting genuine accommodation but in fact the money is being diverted to the organised criminal gang who have set up false websites.
“In other cases people have been conned into paying huge money for all kinds of items from watches to cars to tractors in this very elaborate internet fraud.
“As soon as the cash goes into the gang’s bank account, it is removed from it by the criminals” the source added.
In January, 2020, key gang member Radu Agapie (28) was jailed for four and a a half years after he pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Court to five counts of control of fake Polish and Hungarian identification cards, four counts of using fake documentation to open bank accounts and three counts of money laundering on dates between July 2018 and July 2019.
A month later, another gang member Contantin Dirlescu (31) was jailed for three and a half years after pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to six counts of using false passports to open bank accounts and four counts of operating accounts for money laundering on dates between January 2019 and July 2019.